Energy Institute Gives Agents Taste of New Revenue Possibilities

CHANNEL PARTNERS Telecom agents at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo on Sunday got an enticing glimpse of new revenue streams that await them in the electricity and natural gas sectors, thanks to the first-ever Energy Institute.

Part of the reason energy is attractive to indirect channel partners is that it bears so many resemblances to telecom architecture, said Vince Bradley, CEO of Energent. For example, the supply side of energy is analogous to a power port, while the distribution aspect resembles the local loop. That doesnt mean telecom and energy bear complete parallels, but there are enough that well-versed telecom sales partners can dive right into power and natural gas. To that point, Louis Frate, owner of Patriot Energy, noted that Texas represents probably the most active state” for electricity deregulation read, opportunity right now. Strangely, though, the Lone Star State remains almost completely closed to natural gas deregulation.

In essence, the possibilities for telecom agents in energy mirrors the frenzy stirred up by deregulation in 1996, said Aaron Liberman, executive vice president of channel partners at Reflective Energy Solutions, which co-sponsored the Energy Institute with Glacial Energy.

These are very exciting times for competitive energy,” Liberman said.

That includes offering renewable energy in the form of solar, as Lance Honea, EcoMotions business development partner, discussed.

But all that excitement doesnt mean selling energy is just an easy value-add. Agents need to be aware that energy prices change all the time sometimes every minute,” Frate said. But partnering with the right utilities service provider will eliminate guesswork; the right deal also will open doors for agents when it comes to training, marketing materials and sales support. An important fact new energy agents should know, for instance, is that power comes with peak hours/time of use factors, while natural gas does not. Another key point: The Fortune 1000 and residential consumers typically are not good sales prospects. Thats because the Fortune 1000 tend to have energy professionals in-house and residential buyers spend an average of $1,500 per year on power and natural gas. The sweet spot, then, is hotels, restaurants, universities, high-rises, malls and other entities that spend $50,000 per year or more on energy, said Liberman.

If youve got relationships with these types of companies, youve got yourself an alternative energy prospect list,” he added.

Even better, an agent doesnt have to sell energy full-time to make a good living, said Bill Serratore, director of Glacial Energy. Still, expect to wait up to 90 days for commissions to come rolling in, since they are paid as projects are completed.

At the same time, remember that agents can help clients reduce energy consumption, a method called demand-side management.

The more value you can show a customer, the longer theyll stay with you,” said Eric Zimmerman, president of Reflective Energy Solutions.

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